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It should come as no surprise that the regulation of recreational marijuana, even though legal in the State of Oregon, remains a highly political issue in local jurisdictions.

The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners will be considering a number of more restrictive land use regulations for marijuana grow sites on August 28, 2018. If approved and adopted into law via ordinance, applicants could face several new hurdles for approval of marijuana-related applications.

One of the driving forces behind the proposed revisions is a belief that the introduction of marijuana production into agricultural lands highlights “compatibility concerns” expressed by both farm and nonfarm property owners.

Three chapters of the Deschutes County Code are proposed to be revised: Chapter 9.12 (Right to Farm), Chapters 18.24, 18.116 and 18.124 (Zoning regulations) and Chapters 22.24 and 22.32 (land use action hearings and appeals). As summarized:

• Marijuana will no longer be protected under Right to Farm provisions
• Marijuana production and processing will be excluded from the MUA (multiple use agricultural) zone, where the uses are currently allowed
• Marijuana production will be required to be at least 1/2 mile from federal lands, governments that have opted out, the Redmond Urban Reserve Area and other approved marijuana sites
• There will be additional noise and odor mitigation requirements
• Increased requirements for documentation of water usage
• Increased setbacks from lot lines from 100-200 feet
• Increased setbacks from an off-site dwelling from 300-500 feet
• Additional restrictions on indoor lighting
• Additional requirements on utilities
• Proposed new odor restrictions would require independent research and testing of odor control methods to be documented
• Secure Waste Disposal would require a statement describing how water runoff is addressed
• Inspections will be added to annual reporting
• Additional documentation on payment of System Development Charges (for roads, etc.) will be required
• Notice of Land Use Hearings would now go to all property owners within 1000 feet
• There will be a new provision allowing 15 days for an appeal of a marijuana production or processing decision

The County’s findings include a statement concerning parcel sizes as being too small, thus the proposal to increase setback requirements. It also states that the market is oversaturated, such that the County believes the surplus is being sold into the black market, exacerbating the problems that the creation of a legal market was intended to avoid. Finally, the County believes that, because it cannot regulate or inspect medical marijuana grow sites, it needs to ensure that adequate regulations are used to mitigate potential impacts of recreational grow sites.

If you have any questions concerning the proposed Deschutes County regulations and how they may impact your property or business, please do not hesitate to contact us at Clifton Cannabis Law LLC.

by Stephanie Marshall, Esq.